What Does Le Pen Mean for Gender Politics?
The rise to power of Marine Le Pen is groundbreaking. Regardless of whether she won on May 7th, her impact is much greater than even she realises.
November 7th 2016: Hillary Clinton is set to finally cement herself in the history books. “First Female President of the United States” she dreams. Indeed it was the image that she and many left and centre-leaning supporters had been pushing for months. Finally, a woman was set to take the oval office and it would mean so much for female empowerment across the globe.
May 7th 2017: Anyone with a left or centre-leaning bone in their bodies watches in horror as 11 million French people back Marine Le Pen to become the first female President of France. Almost no mention of gender has taken a part in her campaign, and rarely has she used her sex to fall back on.
It is interesting how liberals everywhere championed for women to be put in the highest positions of power. It is about time, they said, to see women in the highest offices. We need this, they said, to ensure that women’s voices are heard.
Indeed, it is interesting how silent those voices become when it is a woman seeking power whom they disagree with. These champions of female empowerment would rather see Macron – a typically privileged, white, former banker – take power over Le Pen.
The rise of a female figurehead of the far-right has surely distorted the narrative of global gender politics. It would be interesting to ask if Madeline Albright, who famously quipped that every woman had a right to vote for Clinton in 2016, would say the same about Le Pen less than a year later? Somehow, I think not.
The rise of Le Pen will surely throw a spanner in the works for gender scholars. But it will be down to them to try and decipher exactly what her legacy is.